With a population of around 50,000 residents, Venice is now mainly a tourist city and which is also it’s main financial source. Cruise ship port in their cruisers from around the world who are trying to check off items on their bucket list and Venice is on almost everyone’s bucket list. With thousands of tourists marching through the narrow walkways and canals of Venice, UNESCO was nearing placing it on the “In Dangered” list.
Made up of 117 distinct islands that are connected via water canals, small bridges and three large bridges, it’s no wonder that this ‘Floating City’ is a well visited city. You can spend hours trying to navigating the alleys and end up where you started, we did on a nightly basis. Venice, like every region of Italy, has it’s specialty dishes such as Risi i Bisi (Rice and Peas); Carpaccio is said to have been created in Harry’s Bar; and the lesser known, Ciccheti. Ciccheti is not only type of food, it’s a way of life. Similar to the tapas lifestyle of Spain, ciccheti is Italy’s answer to tapas and that’s what we are after here this time. With small bites that range from anything from meatballs to mussels to octopus salad to fritto misto to arancini…..there are no rules except that it’s a small plate just to awaken your taste buds……and to drink more.
Venice is the perfect scenario for a ciccheti food tour because let’s face it, you need to stop, re-group and try to make your way home again…….at least that’s what we seem to subconsciously tell ourselves every time we left our flat. For two days and two nights we ventured out and sought out these sometimes hidden gems of delicious goodness as they are often passed by without a second glance.
There is no particular order in which we went to each of these places but you can use the google maps as reference for each location from one another.
- Bacareto de lele: A very busy ciccheti spot that serves up 1 euro sandwiches and equally cheap wine and prosecco. Be warned that this is a very very small shop. Order, pay and get out. The good part is that is next to a very large piazza so there is plenty of space to just cop a squat and relax.
- Al Bocon Divino: This is larger ciccheti spot that boarders a trattoria because of the size. There are several stand up tables and then there are tables outside but will cost you an extra coperto (cover charge). There is a large selection of ciccheti from tiny bread wraps to fritto misto to polpette.
- Osteria Ae Forcoe: This was our favorite by far. The owners are a young couple and are incredibly nice and personable. We came back the second night because we loved it so much. The meatballs and sauce are made by her mother and so is the squid in marinara and both are delicious. Their crustini’s are among the best we had in Venice……not crustini’s in Italy are not always hot and crusty bread. It’s often just sliced bread with different offerings on top and it’s more often than not…..one bite of perfection.
- Ai Promessi Sposi: Half ciccheti bar and half trattoria. This is a great start, and was actually our first, to your night. Grab a drink, a few cicchetti plates and head outside for some fresh air. There are not tables as it’s down an alley but it doesn’t stop anyone form crowding the alley and enjoying the night away.